Police have released CCTV footage showing two masked suspects believed to have been involved in an arson attack and explosion in the demonstration area outside the Legislative Council building on Wednesday evening.
The incident occurred at around 8:30pm after a planned rally against a controversial new copyright bill was cancelled by organisers.
Both suspects wore face masks and are described as 1.7 meters tall and of slim build. One wore a dark-coloured jacket, black trousers and a black backpack; the other had a light-coloured jacket and dark-coloured trousers, police said.
LegCo president Jasper Tsang said that lawmakers had reviewed the CCTV footage and that around 20 people were present at the demonstration area from around 5pm, even after security guards told them the rally was cancelled.
“We discovered that someone intentionally put burning objects, including newspapers and debris into the rubbish bin,” Tsang said. “They ignited them and dropped a bottle [into the bin], causing an explosion. Before the explosion, we saw […] that someone entered the demonstration area, seemingly to tell the people gathered there to leave.”
He added that he did not believe that those gathered were the same people who planned to attend the original rally. Tsang said he did not know their intentions.
Internet freedom advocacy group Keyboard Frontline, organisers of the cancelled rally, suggested that the incident may have been a prank. The group urged protesters not to play with fire or explosives.
The debate on the controversial new copyright bill, which was unexpectedly adjourned on Wednesday, will continue on the same day next week.
Organisers say they expect 10,000 to 20,000 people to come attend the rally against the bill, and have called for around 100 volunteer stewards.
Tsang said that the Legislative Council Commission has asked that police arrange for officers to stand guard around the demonstration area, but it has not discussed with police how many officers will be requested.
The Commission will also set a ten-person limit for the public audience during next Wednesday’s debate.